If you have found a used car you are thinking about buying, you may be concerend about the possibility of it having sustained flood damage, especially if you live in an area prone to floods. If so, look for the following signs that the car may have been submerged in water during a flood.
Make Sure All Of The VIN Numbers Match
While the VIN number is typically viewable on the dashboard, it can also be found in other areas of the car, such as on the door frame or engine. If the numbers do not match, there is a possibility that the previous owner replaced parts on the vehicle that showed obvious signs of water damage.
However, this is not a sure sign that the car has been flooded. It is also possible that the parts were switched out for other reasons, unless you also see the other signs discussed below. Ask the seller about the mismatched numbers to clarify the history. If necessary, you can also want to obtain a free VIN report for each one to find out if the numbers are associated with the car's make and model.
Look For Excessive Rust Under The Hood
While looking under the hood at the engine to find the VIN number, also inspect the condition of the engine, hoses and transmission. Especially if the car is not very old, you should see minimal to no rust on the mechanical parts. Also, the hoses should be intact without any signs of deterioration.
However, if you see excessive rust on the engine block or around the bolts, this could be a sign that the motor was submerged in water. If so, there is a possibility that there is still water inside the engine block that seaped in through the header gaskets.
Water in the block could eventually cause the gaskets to rot, leading to water in your engine's oil. You can check to see if this has already occurred by starting and running the car for a few minutes. Then, turn off the engine, and check the oil's dipstick.
If the oil is the consistency of a chocolate milkshake, water has contaminated it. Shortly after this occurs, the engine may seize up while operating due to lack of lubrication, requiring a new one to be installed.
Also, if the hoses look brittle or cracked, they could have been waterlogged and then dried out. Although they may appear dry, rot could set in, creating the possibility of them breaking loose or leaking.
Inspect The Dash For Dried Mud In The Crevices
After inspecting the motor, carefully inspect the interior of the vehicle. While doing this, pay very close attention. Although the dashboard and upholstery may have been diligently cleaned, there may still be leftover signs that the car was flooded with water enough to fill the passenger compartment.
One particular place to examine is the crevices and cracks of the dashboard. Because these are fairly difficult to clean completely, dried mud may still be caked inside them. If you are unable to see any mud, run the end of a straightened paper clip inside. If you see light brown or black residue, this could be river mud that was not completely removed. If black, it could also mean mold is growing inside the dashboard.
If you notice one or more of the above signs, the vehicle you wish to purchase may have been involved in a flood. To be sure, you may want to contact a service that provides free VIN history reports that will list any accidents or natural disasters the car was subjected to or click here for more info.